Occupational Licensing

You Can't Flunk Shampoo If You Don't Use It

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The Illinois legislature is making headlines today for a massive 11th-hour, partisan tax hike, but the procrastinators in the outgoing legislature did manage to do one thing somewhat right: licensing requirements for hair braiders were reduced from ridiculous (1,500 hours) to a merely absurd 300 hours of instruction, plus a yearly 10-hour re-education requirement.

And so the old story goes: in 2001, the Illinois Cosmetology Association left their heads under the dryer too long and got steamed over people making money in the centuries-old art of African natural hair braiding. Braiders weren't shelling out the $15,000 required for a beauty school degree. How could they possibly be trusted with hair care? The Illinois Legislature dutifully responded to the calls for "consumer protection."

Dammit. She's got no diploma!

Veteran braiders, already proficient without anything but informal instruction, saw little need to pay for courses irrelevant to their craft. The new law also gave licensed cosmetologists opportunity to tattle on their unschooled and presumably unwashed competitors to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.  

If Illinois had set out to eliminate minority- and woman-owned businesses while reducing the number of community gathering spots, it couldn't have done better work. The new costs created an uneven playing field. Those who did comply saw that extravagant schooling and licensing costs made turning a profit nearly impossible. Many shops closed, eliminating formerly vibrant neighborhood social centers. As an added bonus, the state exposed its weak enforcement power: Braiders still operating illegally became so inured to cease-and-desist letters they trashed them on receipt.

Thanks to a decade of this dysfunctional state of affairs, even the bill's sponsor, Rep. Will Burns (D-Chicago), acknowledges this won't make much difference:

"There's a vibrant underground economy right now of hair braiders. And I don't think that's going to change with the law."

States that expect to fill coffers by charging for the right to practice a learned craft are delusional: "Laws like this are a step in the right direction, but don't go far enough" says Paul Sherman of the Institute for Justice. He points to Florida's 1994 reform of its once onerous licensing regime as an example for other states to follow if they fear the spectre of "untrained" braiders: a $25 fee and a 2-day, 16-hour course in sanitation practices.

Here's an Institute for Justice video on licensing cartels:

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  1. I can’t even fathom it taking two days to relay the information needed to get would-be braiders up to speed on sanitary practices.

    1. What, you think the charge-by-the-hour-vocational-training-industry doesn’t have lobbyists?

      1. Is this some of that “spreading the money around” that’s got unbridled prosperity just around the corner?

      2. Bingo. There is usually one company that handles stuff like this, or “driver re-education” for people who get DUIs, etc. It’s guaranteed revenue for that company. Total scam.

        I had a co-worker who was young and dumb and was constantly getting speeding tickets. Every time, every one, he had to take some class that cost like $200 (it might have been less). The same class he had taken before. All of it going to one company, the only company offering that class.

        1. I watched a recent NOVA on earthquakes, and, on the program, they interviewed a geologist (down the coast from you) named Chris Goldfinger.

          Goldfinger! I mean, that’s friggin’ awesome! I’m sure his middle name is “Auric”, and he is driven around in a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost by a Korean guy with a nice black hat.

          Maybe the first time in 35 years of watching the program that I laughed out loud.

          1. You’ve been watching Nova for 35 years?

            1. I pulled that number out of the air somewhat, but I’ve been watching it since the 70s. Not religiously–some episodes don’t interest me or seem lame.

    2. I worked in a restaurant in my youth. I received exactly zero hours of classroom instruction on sanitary practices.

      I may have been told to wash my hands after pissing or pooping but that complicated info may just have been imparted by the sign in the john.

  2. a yearly 10-hour re-education requirement

    I’m sure we can expect this to be expanded to…lots of other things. I can think of a KAJILLION things the unwashed need to be “re-educted” on.

    Gonna take a long time at 10 hours a crack annually…

  3. You know who else was a fan of “re-education”?

    1. Norman Vincent Peale?

    2. You know who was a fan of “re-neducation”?

  4. Heaven forbid that someone get braided from someone without a license. I mean, that license shows that they know what their doing, right? After all, it’s not like someone who doesn’t will lose all their customers and go out of business or anything.

  5. Most states require around 25 hours of continued medical education for MDs/DOs to retain their licenses.

    Hairbraiders are lucky to only need 10 hours per year!

    1. …a thought similar to my comment below…

      Because Untrained Hairbraiding KILLS PEOPLE

      1. So, a while ago, Matthew Yglesias had a short series of blog posts in which he basically said that we didn’t need to license hair stylists/barbers.

        And, you know, that’s just basic common sense, right? Like, no matter how ideologically liberal you are, you pretty much have to sort of snicker at the notion that we’re licensing barbers. Certainly, Yglesias is no libertarian.

        But no! It turned out that his commenters rose gamely to the challenge of predicting disaster, catastrophe, rioting on the streets and indeed the downfall of western civilization if we didn’t license barbers.

        On being informed that the UK doesn’t license barbers, and Great Britain has conspicuously failed to fall into the sea, the commenters were unphased. This, you see, was because the UK has socialized medicine, which saves them from the scourge of unlicensed barbers.

        I’m serious.

        It’s like… jesus, people.

        1. Every pie tastes better with a liberal thumb in it. Didn’t you get the memo?

  6. How about licensing candidates for elective office? You know, for the sake of “consumer protection”.

    1. Don’t give them any ideas. Then we’ll never get rid of the two parties of morons who’ve been running the country.

      1. How about licensing idea developers?

        Just kidding, I hope ….

  7. Do you need a license to braid hair in Somalia?

    1. You do, but since there are no roads to get to the license office, everyone ignores the requirement.

  8. I din need no ‘creditation board. Jus’ did mah Accountz Reeceevin’ on the down low.

    1. Posting from the grave?!

  9. [I]n 2001, the Illinois Cosmetology Association left their heads under the dryer too long and got steamed over people making money in the centuries-old art of African natural hair braiding. Braiders weren’t shelling out the $15,000 required for a beauty school degree. How could they possibly be trusted with hair care? The Illinois Legislature dutifully responded to the calls for “consumer protection.”

    And who said socialism is not good for business???

  10. Thanks to a decade of this dysfunctional state of affairs, even the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Will Burns (D-Chicago), acknowledges this [the law] won’t make much difference[.]

    Ah, a Democrat sponsored a competition-killing, protectionist bill! Why, oh why, am I not surprised?

  11. …centuries-old art of African natural hair braiding.

    But that’s almost a hundred years ago!

  12. Last year – I think it was Arlington, VA, IIRC, was trying to require licensing for yoga instructor schools. If you wanted to just teach yoga, ok. But if you wanted to teach someone to teach yoga, you needed a license.

    Can’t remember whatever became of that and I don’t care to Google it right now.

  13. *Paul* Sherman. I met him at the IJ summer law clerk conference this summer. Very nice guy who does a great job.

  14. …licensing requirements for hair braiders were reduced from ridiculous (1,500 hours) to a merely absurd 300 hours of instruction, plus a yearly 10-hour re-education requirement.

    As an equity research analyst who had to pass (only!) a half dozen federal regulatory exams (perhaps 300 hours prep in total) in order to be considered qualified to tell institutional investors my opinion on publicly-traded entities, which (sort of) influenced the movement of hundreds of millions of dollars of Other Peoples Money, and the overall value of multi-billion dollar corporations… all I can say is…

    What.The.Fuck.

    I mean, ‘hair braiding’? Whats the risk again… do unqualified hair braiders often Kill People by accident or something?

    “Awww…..dang. Cherise? I did it again… Lock the door. yeah, I’ll get the shovels…”

  15. This is even worse than the California consumer boards. Now I also read that numerous states have licensing requirements for acupuncture. Maybe these states should start regulating witchcraft as well!

  16. I hope Illinois starts going after little girls who braid each others’ hair. Imagine the damage they could be doing, not to mention the lost revenue for rich white business owners!
    It’s time we take a stand. Taking down little girl-run lemonade stands is clearly not getting through to them, we have to send a stronger message to these girls to stop taking money out of the mouths of those lobbyist-represented established businesses.

  17. I hope Illinois starts going after little girls who braid each others’ hair. Imagine the damage they could be doing, not to mention the lost revenue for rich white business owners!
    It’s time we take a stand. Taking down little girl-run lemonade stands is clearly not getting through to them, we have to send a stronger message to these girls to stop taking money out of the mouths of those lobbyist-represented established businesses.

  18. Martin Luther King would have approved of charging people $15K to braid hair. I think he mentioned it in a speech, or something…

    1. “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their coiffures.”

  19. There is one thing and one thing only to do with Illinois Nazis.

  20. I can tolerate our tax hike since it has sunset provisions, but this braiding thing is really stupid.

    Illinois is getting more suckier every day.

    1. Re: Unsustantive Kurt,

      I can tolerate our tax hike since it has sunset provisions[…]

      But what if the sun never sets in Illinois???? Have you thought about that???

      1. That’s what AD SPF sunscreen is for

  21. if you think that shampoo is not working goo for you better change it.
    Beauty supply Distributors

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